Tuesday, 25 September

Who gives the order to shoot? - 2


In a statement issued on January 9, 2003, the Prosecutor General's Office of theRepublicofArmeniaoffered a $250,000 reward to any person who can help the investigation to discover who murdered Tigran Naghdalyan, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Armenian Public Television and Radio. One can conclude from this statement that the measures taken by law enforcement agencies have not yet yielded any results. Our sources tell us that the Prosecutor General's Office is continuing to investigate a number of theories of the crime. No official report has been made so far. The Prosecutor's Office remains silent, has nothing to say. Putting forward theories, for the most part, is a useless occupation, for reality sometimes doesn't fit any scheme. Nevertheless, let us try to continue to make some assumptions on the basis of known information and existing circumstances.

Version # 2

Aram Abramyan, editor of the Aravot daily newspaper, is convinced that the "murder was ordered" and that the "main motives must be political or economic". Big money circulates in the sphere of TV advertising inArmenia, and Public Television has been in a position of advantage. Almost all well-known businessmen are "required" to broadcast their advertisements on Public TV first. The amount Public Television's profit from advertising is unknown. Did Tigran Naghdalyan have his own business? Before coming to Public Television, he established the Kaym (Mast) TV Company. Kaym had $60,000 worth of professional equipment.

The company produces films, clips and programs made to order. Today the main customer of the company is Public Television. In general, when we bring up Tigran's business activity, friends of his change the subject immediately, saying that Tigran was not involved in business. However, we managed to get some information that, unfortunately, is not possible to verify. Specifically, the word was that Tigran was a co-owner of the Taxi-Maxi taxi service. Lately this service had acquired ten new Opel cars. The second thing that people talk about is the Bari Loto TV lottery. And for months they had been saying that Tigran owned one of the cafes at theOpera Square. However, Tigran himself denied these rumors. They also say that Tigran owned a mini-bus route and had 14 mini-buses. But we have no proof of all this, since his name is not present in any of the businesses mentioned. At the same time, even those who suggest economic motives for the murder doubt that someone would kill for this kind of money. But such murders have happened inArmenia, they just haven't had this kind of resonance.

Version # 3

"Tigran was killed for the ideas espoused in his programs" - this theory is also being circulated. However, journalists talk about this version the least. Tigran was a master of words but he wasn't a champion of freedom of speech. His early career was different. Tigran was a key figure in the program Haylur (1991), which was in fact an achievement in free speech, a new level for Armenian journalism. The reports he prepared for Radio Liberty in 1995-1997 were also noteworthy. But the journalism of Tigran Naghdalian the official was a new phase, with a new quality. Tigran had become involved in the political process.

Version # 4

This was a political assassination. This version is to all appearances the most popular. At first glance, his murder is senseless - what was supposed to follow the murder? But this is only at first glance. He was a memorable figure, a symbol of Robert Kocharian's policy. What he said about politics was perceived as being said by the head of state. And it was decisive in political circles. The journalist-official with the right to utter the words of Robert Kocharian. From this point of view, Tigran was, perhaps, the ideal candidate for victim. No matter how many things like "We will continue to follow the chosen path, we will maintain our achievements", etc. are being said, it doesn't matter: the assassination has become a warning to a great many people. Any representative of Kocharian's inner circle may suffer the same fate. Thus, the assassination was political, both in its design and in all its consequences.

We are facing presidential elections, and the entire state bureaucracy, the oligarchs, big and small political parties, and various layers of society are required to a clear position and to state it publicly. If before the murder they had not arrived at a final position, now, after the murder, they have to "think twice".

In certain circles, they say that the perpetrator of the murder is the opposition. They even mention the names of the people Tigran would talk about in a mocking tone on his program Orakarg. But the opposition figures had long been used to this tone. And mutual insults had become an ordinary occurrence. Moreover, people would await the program in order to respond to the sarcasm addressed against them. "It had become something like a game. And it seems to me that both sides liked it", commented a psychologist who didn't want his name published.

The atmosphere of fear is getting deeper and deeper in our country; dozens of people I met to discuss this issue spoke on one condition - that I not reveal their names. And what if the murder was committed precisely to deepen this atmosphere?

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